Achieving Operational Efficiency Through Program Improvement

Achieving maintenance operational efficiency requires focus, smart thinking and innovation. Mammoet, a heavy-lifting and transport company, was able to identify areas and opportunities for program improvement – this included leveraging teamwork, maximizing data management, implementing shipping enhancements and taking advantage of program management solutions available.

The improvements Mammoet implemented in their program opened up the opportunity for the company to move from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance and significantly extending their oil drain intervals. Learn more by reading the case study.

A Look Back: Oil Analysis Then and Now

As I look back, it is hard to believe I have now been involved in the oil analysis industry for more than 35 years. I was first introduced to this science in 1983, while in the military. I was assigned to my first permanent duty station as a track vehicle mechanic (MOS 63Y10). My motor officer was sold on the value that oil analysis offered and over time – I began to learn and believe in the value as well.

So what has changed over the years? First off, ‘oil analysis’ is now most commonly referred to as ‘fluid analysis’ as other fluids are commonly tested as part of customer programs – not just oil.

Then: Reactive

In the 80’s and 90’s, we used oil analysis to help prevent catastrophic failure from occurring. You might say a ‘just in time’ maintenance approach. If a high severity oil analysis report was received on a specific piece of equipment, the equipment associated with the high severity report would be moved up on the priority list for maintenance, more often than not a ‘reactive’ maintenance event.

Now: Predictive

Today, using not only oil analysis, but including fuel analysis and coolant analysis, to prevent catastrophic failures from occurring remains a primary goal. However, if you end your focus there you are missing out and not taking full advantage of what these services can offer your maintenance program today.

World-class maintenance organizations are now taking advantage of the full capabilities that an effective fluid analysis program offers. They are no longer just concentrating on preventing catastrophic failures, but also:

  • Monitoring oil condition: allowing the ability to optimize drain intervals.
  • Monitoring fluid cleanliness: taking action to filter and clean fluids and by doing so, greatly increasing component life hours.
  • Monitoring additives: allowing the ability to quickly detect when lubricant mixing or cross contamination has occurred
  • Moving from preventative maintenance to predictive maintenance: with fluid analysis, and additional non-invasive testing technologies, we can monitor the health of the components. Thus, allowing to move away from the old practices of replacing or rebuilding components on a prescribed interval and performing rebuild and replacements only when alerted to do so.
  • Coolant analysis: For liquid-cooled components, coolant analysis is essential. Did you know that more than 50 percent of all “preventable, premature” engine failures are related to cooling system issues?
  • Fuel analysis: For today’s diesel engines, tolerances are tighter than ever before. Issues with fuel results in fuel system wear, decreased performance and even failure.

It’s No Longer Reactive

There is much more that a quality fluid analysis program program offers. Since today’s fluid analysis capabilities alerts us to the very earliest stages of wear, we are able to plan and schedule maintenance activities and move away from reactive, unplanned events. By doing so, we find that equipment availability increases, completion rate of scheduled events improves, the safety risk associated with reactive maintenance is greatly diminished, equipment availability improves and maintenance cost are reduced.

Testing Procedures Have Changed, Too

What about the test procedures themselves, have they improved over the years? The answer is yes! When I first began my career, the standard test slate included monitoring 18 elements for routine testing. Today, POLARIS Laboratories® standard routine test slate includes 24 elements, allowing the monitoring of wear for the latest generation of your equipment. The improvements have not stopped there. Improvements in particle counting, fuel dilution, soot, water and even the reporting software have seen great improvements as well.

Innovative Report and Software Advancements

When it comes to the reporting software, we are no longer limited to reviewing just a single report but we can quickly identify common causes of high severity reports, amongst common component types and adjust our maintenance activities and strategies to overcome potential issues. Today’s testing can truly provide a significant return on investment and help keep your equipment running better than ever before.

In closing, I leave you this advice. Identify the goals of your fluid analysis program, then check your fluid analysis test package profile and ensure that the test that are being performed by your service provider includes the individual test to meet those goals. The times and the testing have changed and all test packages are not created equal. Goals and testing need to be aligned. If you have questions or would like to evaluate you current program I encourage you to contact your laboratory.


Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published July 24, 2018

Contamination Control After a Flood

It’s been approximately one year since Hurricane Harvey hit the gulf coast. Harvey was a once-in-a-lifetime-size storm, some of Houston and surrounding areas are still recovering and for the most part, have resumed life as usual. As we come closer to this year’s Hurricane season, it’s important to know what water contamination can mean for your equipment, and what you can do to prepare for these devastating – and unexpected – acts of nature.

What to Look For

If a flood does occur, what are some of the signs to look for on your equipment?

  • Dried mud crusted on your containers
  • High water marks above your container
  • Whether your cap lids and vents are still in place
  • Filters are saturated with water
  • Your oil is milky or cloudy
  • When you take a sample, is there free water separated?

Test ASAP to Determine Contamination

If you see any of these issues we recommend immediate testing. We offer several different testing methods that can identify water contamination:

  • The simplest and way and most often used is Water by Crackle. This is usually the quickest – but the least precise. It can indicate the need for further testing with more advanced methods.
  • Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) can determine an approximate amount of oil in water.
  • Water by Karl Fischer – a measured amount of the oil sample is introduced into the titration chamber of an automated Karl Fischer Titrator. The sample is titrated to an electromagnetic endpoint. The result is reported in % water or parts per million.

Click here to see a complete list of the tests and services POLARIS Laboratories® offers.

Moisture, when it contaminates hydraulic and lubricating oils, has a degrading effect to both the lubricant and the machine. Free or emulsified water can lead to excessive wear and can destroy bearings and effect the aging rate of your oil. When in doubt, it’s best to test right away to prevent further damage to your equipment.

It’s also important to continuously test your oil – to establish consistent sample history and to begin creating a baseline for your equipment. In an event a hurricane or unexpected disaster does occur, you’ll be able to tell if your oil has been contaminated or not.


Jonathan Hughes

Houston Laboratory Manager

POLARIS Laboratories®


Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published July 17, 2018

Extended Life Coolant: Why You Should Monitor Your Corrosion Inhibitors

Extended Life Coolant formulations contain organic acid inhibitors for corrosion protection similar to how conventional formulations use inorganic inhibitors. With extended life coolants becoming more popular testing, the organic acid inhibitors can be trickier in the field and require additional testing in the laboratory than what the conventional formulation would have used. For conventional formulations, monitoring nitrite and/or molybdenum was the main way to determine if corrosion protection levels were adequate or not. Now with all different possible organic inhibitors used in extended life coolants, the fluid may or may not contain inorganic inhibitors, nitrite and/or molybdenum, with the addition of organic inhibitors. Some may contain only organic inhibitors in the formulation.

Organic Acid Inhibitors

Not all extended life coolants are applicable for testing on all test strips used to determine organic levels. The test strip testing may only work on certain organic formulations because the strip is looking for a certain organic acid(s) present which may or may not be present in the formulation in use. Some of the more common organic acid inhibitors found are Benzoic Acid, Sebacic Acid and 2-Ethylhexanoic Acid for iron and aluminum protection. Azoles that are commonly used are Benzotriazole (BZT), Tolyltriazole (TTZ) and Mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) for copper and brass protection. Coolant manufacturers might not use all of these inhibitors in their formulations which is why laboratory testing is beneficial in determining the type of inhibitors present in the coolant formulation.

High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)

In the laboratory, the only testing that can report in parts per million the organic acids (carboxylic acids) is with the High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) testing. The HPLC will report the organic acids present in the formulation and determine if the levels are adequate for corrosion protection. The testing can indicate if mixing of coolant formulation has occurred as well. To determine if mixing occurred, make sure the laboratory testing will include the testing of both the inorganic and organic inhibitors when submitted to the laboratory. If the coolant formulation is unknown it is important to include testing for both inorganic and organic inhibitors as well. If mixing did occur already, then testing will show the current level of inhibitors and help determine if levels are adequate for corrosion protection. Receiving testing that includes identification of all types of inhibitors will be the only way to help determine the type of inhibitors present currently in the system and how to maintain the fluid.

Why Add HPLC to Your Program?

Adding this testing to your current test package will help to indicate if someone has topped off with a different coolant formulation which can cause dilution of the organic acids that protect the metal in your engine or if the current fluid inhibitors are still adequate for corrosion protection. If the organic acid inhibitors are low cavitation, pitting and premature failure can occur. Overall, HPLC testing will help to ensure you achieve longevity with your Extended Life Coolant and engine. The Technical Bulletin, Benefits Gained from High Performance Liquid Chromatography Testing, will provide additional information on the benefits of HPLC testing and explain how the HPLC instrument operates.   

Proven Impact. Proven Uptime. Proven Savings.
Let us prove it to you.

Published July 10, 2018